Thursday, January 7, 2010

Johnson in the article "Happy New Year: Best of the year that was"

Murray Whyte from the Star writes about his top 5 shows for 2009, including Sarah Ann Johnson's exhibition at the AGO titled "House on Fire".
He writes:


House on Fire: Sarah Anne Johnson at the AGO

Johnson--vines-2 I'm pretty hard on the AGO, as anyone who's ever so much as skimmed anything I've done on ye olde institution would know; but this one, simply, hit it out of the park. Johnson, a thirtysomething artist from Winnipeg, often combines homespun photographic manipulations -- images purposefully crudely retouched by hand, drawn or scribbled on -- with eerily primitivistic, archetypal-seeming sculpture, detailing a dark inner mythology of her own making. For House on Fire, which the AGO smartly acquired, Johnson's subject was not mythology, but a dark episode in her family history; her grandmother was one of the unfortunate few who was an unwitting subject of pharmacological mind-control experiments surreptitiously conducted by the CIA on patients at the Allen Memorial Institute at McGill University, Montreal.

The resulting work occupies a space somewhere between darkly fantastical, half-remembered nightmare and a chilling reality almost too brutal to be believed (above is a photograph Johnson has re-imagined, of herself and her sister being held by her grandmother, as children; the encircling vines growing from the tortured woman's figures speak of a permanent, inexorcizable haunting). Personal, affecting and thoroughly worked through -- Johnson's pieces, both photographic and sculptural, carry a tragic personal weight with their perfectly rendered, hand-made qualities -- House on Fire is exactly what the AGO should be doing.

For the full list please follow the link:

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